The Cairns-based former principal of one of Australia’s top indigneous schools will go on trial in September accused of multi-million-dollar fraud.
A former Senior Australian of the Year accused of fraudulently claiming millions of taxpayer dollars for one of the country’s top indigenous schools will face trial in September.
Jean Illingworth, the former principal of Djarragun College near Cairns, is accused of inflating student numbers to obtain up to $9 million in extra government funding for the school.
A trial date was set for September 22 during a pretrial hearing in the Cairns District Court on Thursday.
Up to 70 witnesses, including 50 current and former school staff, will be called during the trial, which is expected to take up to five weeks.
The court also heard Crown prosecutors had 17,000 documents, mainly enrolment and financial records, in their possession.
About 200 of these will be presented at the trial.
Illingworth’s lawyers still have the option to apply for a judge only trial or request jurors be polled to see if they are biased due to publicity surrounding the case.
Before the trial takes place the case will go before the court again next month.
Prosecutors alleged Illingworth enrolled children who never attended classes to gain extra funding.
Illingworth, who worked at the college for about a decade, was named the Queensland Senior Australian of the Year in 2009 for her work in transforming the once-dysfunctional college into a much admired model of success.
The 66-year-old has been in custody in a Townsville women’s prison for almost a year.
She was released on bail after being charged early last year but was then taken into custody in July after allegedly contacting witnesses in the trial.
A separate trial relating to these alleged offences may take place in November.